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Interview with SilverlightShow WP7 Quiz Fourth-day Winner Rodney Willis (@HotRodW)

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Svetla Stoycheva
Svetla Stoycheva
Joined Sep 25, 2009
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0 comments   /   posted on Sep 24, 2010
Tags:   windows-phone-7 , quiz , silverlightshow , rodney-willis
Categories:   Interviews

The answer to our fourth question - 'What is the max. file size for app updates for over the air (OTA) installations?' – was first given by Rodney Willis (@HotRodW ). Our short talk with Rodney will introduce him and his experience with WP7 to SilverlightShow community.

Q. Rodney – congratulations for becoming the fourth winner in SilverlightShow WP7 Quiz! Please introduce yourself to the community at SilverlightShow - who are you, your professional background, projects you are currently working on, interests, blog or anything else you’d like to mention?

A. Hi, and thanks for running this great promotion. My name is Rodney Willis, and by day I am a Software Architect for ScriptLogic Corporation. I’ve been a professional software developer for 18 years, currently focusing on cloud-based platforms. By night I like to dabble in new and upcoming technologies, and once in a while something comes along that really grabs my interest. Windows Phone 7 is one of those technologies.

Q. Why did you get interested in WP7 development? What business opportunities do you see in developing applications for WP7?
A. I’ve always been somewhat interested in the mobile space going back to the original Microsoft PDA’s like the ViewSonic V37 (which I still have!). Just like desktops gave way to laptops, laptops are slowly giving way to pervasive mobile computing. Today’s devices are as powerful as the computers we used just 3 and 4 years ago, which means that businesses can now extend their presence and platforms all the way to their customer’s pockets. The possibilities for connecting people are already being realized, but I believe we have yet to see the truly disruptive technology that mobile platforms can bring. The IPhone set a very high bar for the competition back when it was introduced, but the WP7 experience and the fantastic Silverlight development platform easily leapfrogs Apple’s current offering.
Q. Are you currently working on some WP7 application(s)? If yes – please tell us more about them.

A. When I approach any new platform, I tend to start with something manageable, but in this case I wanted to do something fun. My first application is a word game that could be described as “Boggle meets Wheel-of-Fortune”. It is tentatively called “Phrazin’”, and will hopefully make it into the marketplace shortly after real hardware is available for testing.

This platform has been very inspiring, much more than the top two competing platforms (both of which I have used as my primary phone device). I have more ideas than I will ever have time to implement, and would love to partner with other dedicated developers and designers who would be willing to pool resources.
Q. What do you expect from the official launch of WP7?

A. For one, I can't wait to see the advertisements for it, because even a lot of tech people I know don't know anything about what's coming. When I mention it, they give me a puzzled look. If Microsoft nails the user-education issue and can create the sense of real choice in the mind of the average consumer, then I expect this platform to do extremely well.

We've already seen the competition loosen development restrictions to try to ebb the flow of development talent and resources to this platform, so you know they're scared of it.

I’m not sure really what to expect. I would love to see consumers lined up around the block and for Microsoft to move 10m units in the first year. The phone is aimed at consumers, and everyone who uses it loves it, but consumers have to know about it first.

Q. What WP7 topics would you want to see covered on SilverlightShow?

A. Microsoft has done a fantastic job of educating developers and making an abundance of technical information available. The primary things I see missing right now are around patterns and stylization. Some of the restrictions (such as 2 back button clicks to exit any app) are a little tricky to work around, and getting some well-thought-out patterns presented around these issues would be great. MVVM articles tailored for the phone would be useful as well.

As for stylization, one problem with which many developers struggle is how to make the app or game look polished and good. A resource for finding experienced Silverlight UI designers and graphic artists would be a godsend for developers. Nobody wants a flood of average-to-bad apps. They want professional looking apps that make sense. Windows developers have not always excelled in that area, so resources to help them succeed on the phone will be important.
Q. What area(s) of Silverlight are you currently exploring? Most recent challenge you were faced with in your work?
A. Microsoft is making strides to connect Silverlight to the backend to make it a truly useful platform for business development, and this is very interesting to me professionally. The failure of HTML and the myriads of supporting web technologies has been an impediment to be dealt with, whereas Silverlight (more so than Flash before it) is a significant advancement towards putting forward a coherent and integrated experience for end-users.

The browser is still the dominant delivery vehicle, but with a good strategy, I believe that Silverlight could become the dominant platform through which businesses connect with their customers. It is secure and rich, and provides an experience that is orders of magnitude better than current web technologies. A good example of this is the recently released Seesmic Desktop 2 client. It is an OOB application deployed via the web, but no less connected than any web page through which content is delivered. If browsers rendered XAML instead of HTML with a hosted, managed runtime in place of JavaScript, the world would be a better place.

Thanks, Rodney, for taking part in our quiz, and for giving this interview for SilverlightShow! Look forward to hear from you again, with your first WP7 applications!



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